HC Deb 03 March 1993 vol 220 cc381-400

Amendments made: No. 82, in page 221, line 4, column 3, at beginning insert— 'Section 1(1)'.

No. 154, in page 221, line 10, column 3, at end insert— 'Sections 102 and 103. In section 105(2), paragraph (d) and, in the words following that paragraph, "maintenance contribution".'.

No. 155, in page 221, line 14, at end insert— '1946 c. 50. The Education Act 1946. In Part II of the Second Schedule, the entry relating to section 102 of the Education Act 1944. 1953 c. 33. The Education (Miscellaneous Provision) Act 1953. Section 8(1). 1959 c. 60, The Education Act 1959. The whole Act'.

No. 156, in page 221, line 15, at end insert— '1967 c. 3. The Education Act 1967. Section 1'.

No. 157, in page 221, line 16, column 3, at end insert 'In Schedule 1, paragraph 4'.

No. 158, in page 221, line 22, at end insert— '1975 c. 2. The Education Act 1975 The whole Act'.

No. 159, in page 221, line 49, column 3, at end insert In schedule 1, in paragraph 1(2) "102", paragraph 12, in paragraph 21 "(1) and" and paragraphs 22 and 23'.

No. 160, in page 221, line 52, column 3, at end insert— 'In Schedule 3, paragraphs 4 and 13'.—[Mr. Boswell.]

Order for Third Reading read.

9.1 pm

Mr. Patten

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

The House has now debated the Bill for more than 160 hours on the Floor of the House and in Committee. The combination of two days' debate on Report and a two-day Second Reading debate is unprecedented for any education Bill in the history of the House, but it is fully justified. I am sure that whatever else may divide the House, we should agree about that.

The Bill is the longest education Bill ever—now 268 clauses. We made important additions to it in Committee. First, we gave special schools the important new freedom to apply for grant-maintained status. Secondly, by requiring governing bodies to consider grant-maintained status annually, we will ensure that parents are given every opportunity and every reason to make their voice heard on grant-maintained matters.

Mr. Bowis

May I tempt my right hon. Friend to take one more step towards local education authorities which see the point of the Bill and support grant-maintained schools? Will he give them the right—it is right and proper that he should—to encourage the holding of ballots in schools in their areas?

Mr. Patten

I will certainly reflect carefully on that suggestion. It strikes me as likely that, in the next few years, a number of progressive and forward-looking local authorities will wish to encourage schools in their areas to go grant-maintained. I shall look carefully at the provision of clause 30 and, having reflected, perhaps move to have the matter considered further in the other place.

Mr. Patrick Thompson

My hon. Friend the Member for Battersea (Mr. Bowis) mentioned ballots. Does not my right hon. Friend agree that the balloting process takes too long, and that there is concern about that?

Mr. Patten

It is right that there should be proper debate about whether a school or a group or a cluster of schools should move towards grant-maintained status. We have already done our best to shorten the ballot period, which seems unnecessarily long. I shall reflect carefully on the interesting suggestion of my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, North (Mr. Thompson) that we should make the balloting period as short as is consistent with free and open public debate. Having reflected on that matter. I may well urge my noble Friend Baroness Blatch to reflect on it further in the other place.

Clause 150 will allow local education authorities to continue to make available services relating to special educational needs. I have outlined three of the important additions to the Bill.

A number of amendments have been accepted and, in the past two days, we have discussed a number of amendments tabled by the Government as a result of commitments made by my hon. Friends in Committee. My hon. Friends the Members for Mid-Worcestershire (Mr. Forth) and for Daventry (Mr. Boswell), the Parliamentary Under-Secretaries of State, performed magnificently in Committee. I am about to buy a suitable new tie for my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Worcestershire to remind him of his service at that stage. I understand that, when successful football matches end, the players sometimes exchange shirts. It may be that, here, ties will be exchanged. [Interruption.] I see that there is little demand for the tie that my hon. Friend is wearing, and certainly there is none for the one being worn by the hon. Member for Stretford (Mr. Lloyd).

The process has not yet finished. We are considering the responses to the exclusion proposals in the consultation document that was issued last November. It would not be right to amend the Bill further before completion of the consultation process.

I expect that we shall introduce further amendments in another place. These will ensure that we have the right mechanisms to deal with children who have been excluded from school, of whom there are too many. I want to be quite sure that, where children can be educated with their contemporaries in schools, that will happen. On the other hand, I am determined that, where this is not possible—where, for understandable reasons, control cannot be exercised in the classroom by hard-working teachers—proper arrangements will be made to provide pupils with a high-quality education and a measure of control in the community. This will be in the interests of the children themselves, and will help to secure peace and quiet on streets and in communities. I recognise that there is a limit to what any head or classroom teacher can do.

We have listened also to requests that our proposals for groups or clusters of self-governing schools be made more flexible. We plan a number of changes to provide for this. For example, secondary schools will be allowed to become full members of groups, and we shall provide for associations of schools that will be looser than full clusters but will remain formal relationships under a scheme approved by the Secretary of State. I see these moves as important indications of our commitment to flexibility and to making self-governing status a real possibility for all schools, of whatever size, if that is the wish of parents.

The Bill puts in place the structures we need if our vision for education in the 21st century is to be made a reality. That vision is of a school system that will achieve international standards of excellence. When my right hon. Friend the Member for Mole Valley (Mr. Baker) spoke to the House on the occasion of the Third Reading of the Education Reform Bill 1988, he compared the achievements of our 16-year-olds with the achievements of pupils in the high schools of what was then West Germany in securing certificates in foreign languages, maths and the language of their own country.

At that time, less than 40 per cent. of English 16-year-olds attained qualifications equivalent to those of their West German counterparts. The figure is now 55 per cent. This is a measure of the improvement over the past five years, thanks to the national curriculum and to a regime of regular testing, for which I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for Mole Valley.

We can be confident that we are very much on the right track. Just a few years ago, only four out of 10 of our young people stayed in part-time or full-time education after the age of 16. The proportion is now between six and seven out of 10, and I predict that by 1996—by the time of the next general election—it will have reached eight out of 10. This will help the young people themselves to be happier and more fulfilled human beings, as well as helping the country.

A key element of future success will lie in giving schools the freedom to respond fully to their pupils' needs, to manage their own affairs and to raise their standards. We look forward with increasing confidence to a system of self-governing schools, each offering parents something slightly different within the framework of the national curriculum. We look forward to a system in which each school can play to its strengths, sometimes involving increased specialisation, competing both with other schools and with what it achieved the year before, enjoying the greatest possible autonomy, and accountable to the greatest degree to parents and pupils.

Finally, I want to thank all the hard-working teachers and governors who run the schools in this country for what they do for our children. I repeat my commitment to excellence across the education system. I want every school to realise the full potential of every child which it educates. Nothing less than that will do. Nothing less will guarantee our international economic competitiveness and our national, social and moral cohesion. I commend the Bill to the House.

9.10 pm
Mrs. Ann Taylor (Dewsbury)

Hon. Members were not surprised that the Secretary of State was in his usual arrogant, boastful mood this evening. He boasted about the number of hours spent on the Bill. Of course, he was not present during most of those hours, because he was absent from the Committee. He boasted about the size of the Bill, as though he wanted to get into "The Guinness Book of Records" on size, but size is not everything.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bridgend (Mr. Griffiths) said that the Secretary of State's speech was more like a Second Reading speech than a Third Reading speech. Even at this late stage, the Secretary of State is having to confess that there are new problems which he has not thought through, and that amendments will have to be considered in another place. On Second Reading, Labour Members said that this was a bad Bill. In Committee and on Report, the Bill was made even worse, mainly because of the constant interference in terms of giving more powers to the Secretary of State.

Clearly, the Bill's theme has been to concentrate power in education in the hands of the Secretary of State. That is what is wrong with the Bill. It is wrong because it is not what is best for education, and it is wrong in terms of democratic accountability, especially when the Secretary of State takes such pride in not listening to teachers, whom he had the gall to praise a moment ago, and parents, whom he insulted with descriptions such as "neanderthal".

Time and again, the Secretary of State has chosen to grab more power. In many ways, the grabbing of power by the Secretary of State has highlighted some of the weaknesses in his argument and the failure of his policies, especially the precious grant-maintained policy. Grant-maintained schools have not mushroomed in Labour authorities, as the Government predicted. Instead, most grant-maintained schools are in Tory education areas. Clearly, if opting out is a sign of dissatisfaction with local authorities, parents have a higher level of dissatisfaction with Conservative authorities than with Labour ones.

The Secretary of State cannot face the decisions of parents and the fact that more then 24,000 schools are not even considering becoming grant maintained. He has decided to force governing bodies to discuss grant-maintained status each year. That says so much for his trust and respect of governors. He will have power to declare a ballot void if he chooses. That says so much for trusting the judgment of parents.

Clearly, when schools become grant maintained, they will not be opting out of local authority control. They will be opting in to centralised political control under the Secretary of State.

Mr. Bob Dunn (Dartford)

If the hon. Lady was Secretary of State for Education and wanted to close grammar schools in my constituency of Dartford, and if the people of Dartford voted in a referendum not to have those schools closed, what would she do? Would she keep them open or close them?

Mrs. Taylor

The idea that we are now to have a referendum in Dartford is a new one. I would be happy, if I were Secretary of State for Education—I am glad that the hon. Gentleman anticipates that—to seek to improve the opportunities for every child in Britain. I would not segregate children into successes and failures. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising that issue. In Committee, one of the few occasions on which Tory Back-Bench Members spoke was when selection was discussed. That is their hidden agenda. They do not want to talk about it, but selection is one of the objectives of the Bill.

The Secretary of State has often said that he is proud of the Bill, and that he will be a tough Secretary of State. But we cannot trust him with the powers in the Bill, not least because he is inconsistent in using his powers. He has said many times, and he repeated recently, that he intends to be tough on surplus places. He takes great pride in saying that he will be tough. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Lancaster (Dame E. Kellett-Bowman) obviously approves of that.

The Secretary of State has also said, boldly and directly, that he will not allow schools to opt out to avoid closure; yet, within the past few days, he has allowed Shire Oak community school in Walsall to become grants maintained. It was due to close, as a result of rationalisation of surplus places: it is operating at 51 per cent. capacity. The Secretary of State has allowed that school to opt out. So much for his statement to the House: I will not allow grant-maintained status to be used as a bolthole for failing schools".—[Official Report, 9 November 1992; Vol. 213, c. 651.] That is the Secretary of State's rhetoric, but we see the decisions he makes.

Of course we must object to the use of the guillotine on the Bill. Crucial amendments have not been discussed, such as the amendment—

Mr. Patrick Cormack (Staffordshire, South)

Will the hon. Lady give way?

Mrs. Taylor

There is no time, I am sorry. [Interruption.] I am sure that the hon. Gentleman understands that, because of the guillotine, there is not time to give way as much as I would normally do. I hope that he will listen to the point that I am about to make, because I am sure that he will be interested in it. I hope that Ministers will listen too.

I wish to give an example of the serious.and important amendments which should have been discussed during the passage of the Bill and have been ignored as a result of what has happened. [Interruption.] If the Minister will control his Parliamentary Private Secretary, we might have a debate.

Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. I do not know that the discipline in this class is as good as it might be.

Mrs. Taylor

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I am sure that you will have noticed where that indiscipline was coming from.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Is it in order on Third Reading for the hon. Lady to discuss an amendment which was not called?

Madam Deputy Speaker

It is usual to talk about what is in the Bill, rather than what is not.

Mrs. Taylor

I am sure that that is the case, but it is rather strange that the Secretary of State had to announce that he would consider so many new issues at a later stage.

One of the amendments that Madam Speaker selected, but on which discussion was not allowed, was suggested to me by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. It related to the responsibilities of grant-maintained schools and their failure to allow, in one case, a teacher to go to court to give evidence in a child abuse case because the school said that it could not afford to provide cover. Grant-maintained schools are not under the same obligation as local authority schools to release teachers in such circumstances, which is the sort of anomaly and serious problem that we should have been discussing.

The Secretary of State has shown us his priorities. Even as amended, the Bill does nothing to tackle the real education issues that face us: underfunding, which has caused schools in Tory-controlled Enfield to say that they cannot guarantee full-time education for all pupils next year; the cuts, which are challenging the very existence of nursery education in many areas; and the Government's total lack of commitment to nursery education.

The Bill does nothing to help those parents who are bewildered by the constant chopping and changing in the curriculum, the teachers who have had to administer discredited tests, or the governors who have to hold jumble sales to buy books.

The Bill does not deal with the important problem of class sizes—no doubt because the junior Minister said yesterday that he does not think that they are important. The Government's obsession with grant-maintained status and the market comes before everything else. This is a bad Bill, which will damage our children's educational opportunities and concentrate too much power in the hands of the Secretary of State and Opposition Members will oppose it.

9.21 pm
Mr. George Walden

May I resume the speech that I began yesterday, Madam Deputy Speaker? The Official Report states:

"Mr. George Walden (Buckingham)

I welcome the new clause as I welcome the Bill. Far from doing what the hon.

Member for Wallsend (Mr. Byers)"—

I am glad to see him in his place— and other members of the Opposition parties have alleged, the new clause will introduce a more equitable distribution of powers between the Government and the councils— It being Six o'clock, MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER, pursuant to Order [15 December] and Resolution this day, put the Question".— [0fficial Report, 2 March 1993; Vol. 220, c. 179.] New clause 22 is obviously the most important clause in the Bill and it will bring about a more equitable distribution of power between the Government, councils and schools. Everyone failed to realise that, as Lenin once said, it was a case of all power to the soviets"— soviets meaning the councils. Previously all power resided in the councils. The Department of Education and Science had minimal powers. Anyone who contests that should look closely at its shoddy, substandard 1960s building, which mirrors the shoddy, substandard educational standards that have reigned in Britain since that time. The building contained only a small number of officials because all the power resided with the councils and none in London or with the schools.

Dr. Wright

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Walden

I shall certainly do so when I have finished this point.

Clause 22 redistributes power equitably, more towards the centre, and is the most important provision in the Bill.

Why should more power go to the centre? Because that is necessary to control devolution of power to the schools, leaving some powers in the middle, with the councils. From that point of view, the Bill seems fair and equitable.

Dr. Wright

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Hon. Members


Mr. Walden

I am being urged by my hon. Friends not to give way. I had better not as I have a lot to get through.

Unfortunately, I have to criticise my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, as there is a major contradiction in the clause that I have just lauded.

Clause 22 states that the Secretary of State will encourage diversity and increasing opportunities for choice. Given the present climate in Britain, that is nonsense. Some 86 per cent. of our schools are comprehensive. Therefore, the realistic choice and diversity—even with grant-maintained schools—for normal parents will be either to send their children to a comprehensive school, with all that that means in terms of the philosophy of education, or to pay for them to get out of the system, which I do. I do not agree with the philosophy governing comprehensive education in this country. But those of us who can afford to opt out of the system are few and far between for financial reasons.

Therefore, there is a major contradiction as—[Interruption.] I am about to make my argument; hon. Members must wait. In reality, the choice is between a public school, which with its expensive fees is totally inaccessible to most people in this country, and the dogma of comprehensive education. Therefore—here is my argument—I should like my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to amalgamate the perfectly reasonable powers in new clause 22 with another part of the Bill dealing with the technology schools initiative and introduce in this country, where possible, a diversity of types of school to give us a more continental and far more successful system with genuine choice and excellence. It would include selection by aptitude, of which they are riot afraid on the continent.

If one is born to a low-income family on the continent, one has a damn sight more opportunity to get on in society than we do in our class-obsessed country, which has given rise to the comprehensive system, the whole ethos of which is to keep down standards for everyone.

Hon. Members


Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. It is reaching a point where I cannot hear the words of the hon. Member who has the Floor—[HON. MEMBERS: "He is speaking rubbish."] That may be a matter of opinion, but the tradition of the House is that hon. Members allow others to speak even when they disagree with them—a tradition that I intend to maintain. Hon. Members who indulge in too many sedentary interventions may find it difficult to catch my eye when they wish to speak formally.

Mr. Walden

I should be horrified if you, Madam Deputy Speaker, missed anything that I had to say as I believe it to be true.

Comprehensives have failed—[Interruption.] I quote Professor A. H. Halsey, from last week, not yesterday. The professor wobbles around like a Russian doll and scares the hell out of the Opposition when he does. But he never quite falls over and assures us that he is an ethical socialist. What is so ethical about condemning generations of people from low-income families in this country to low expectations in education, which is what Professor Halsey and Opposition Members have done? I know what I am talking about as I went through the state system—and when I was not in a comfortable financial position.

I am keen that we should raise the sights of people in this country so that they come closer to approaching the ambitions of those on the continent, where I have personal experience. At present, under the comprehensive system we have a system of institutionalised mediocrity. When we talk about the state of our young, and the state of law and order, Opposition Members, including the Labour Front Bench home affairs spokesman, the hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair), should consider whether comprehensive schools, with their lax academic and disciplinary expectations, have done anything to contribute to law and order. Let us have an honest debate on the subject, not merely a tactical one.

My practical message for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is that, when he is considering applications for grant-maintained schools, he should encourage applications under the technology schools initiative to produce a genuine diversity of types of schools for people, particularly from low-income families, in the cities, so that those children have the same effective choice that well-to-do children have.

I do not believe that, because people live in inner cities, they should not learn, say, the classics. I do not believe that that should be the effective preserve, as it is at the moment, of people with money who can afford to go to private schools, which is the reality. They should have the option of going to an acadmically demanding grammar-type school based on aptitude.

There should also be, as on the continent—the more advanced and more enligthened continent—high-grade technology schools,, expensively well equipped, my right hon. Friend must note, for children whose aptitudes lie in another direction. Those children deserve the effective choice that people who happen to be born to more well-to-do families in effect have.

That brings me to the second point, which has been extremely well covered by my hon. Friend the Member for Lewes (Mr. Rathbone). I do not understand, and have never understood, the Government's attitude to nursery education. The social reality is that people such as myself who are not rich but have a bit of money buy nursery education for our children. We do that for two reasons. First, it gives them a head start. We do not need studies to know that. We know that that is true. Secondly, it gives my wife, not to speak of myself, a little more free time than we might otherwise have.

So let us not have studies about nursery education. Let us get on with nursery education for everyone, not just for people with money. Besides being obviously educationally beneficial, besides being useful for wives—most of them —who deserve more free time, nursery education, as common, ordinary, sensible people know, helps to get the children early, at the age of two or three, so that they stand a much greater chance of not ending up in the juvenile court.

Under the nursery regime, which does not mirror the mistaken permissiveness of the 1960s but is a serious, organised educational regime, in which something is expected of the child in terms of social behaviour and in terms of beginning to know how to learn, even at the age of three, not only will society be helped but the present abysmally low expectations in primary schools in this self-congratulatory country of ours will be boosted, as they will be in the secondary schools.

One day we may even get ourselves to the level where we can safely expand our A-levels in the way that they should be expanded without diluting them across the board in the way in which the education industry would like to do today.

For all those reasons, I recommend to the Government that, irrespective of party political points of view, nursery education has become a socially as well as an educationally vital issue in Britain. If Liverpool does not demonstrate that, I do not know what it does demonstrate.

Finally, you will be glad to hear, Madam Speaker, it would be irresponsible for any hon. Member to make the sort of intervention that I have made with all its cost implications without saying from where the money will come. I have told my right hon. Friend that to have genuine diversity of schools he will have to spend a lot more on the technology colleges. They must be well equipped. They must be centres of hope in the deprived areas of the country.

Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South)

All schools should be.

Mr. Walden

Agreed. They must look good. They have to recruit highly qualified, difficult-to-get teachers in physics, maths and the fairly rare and highly skilled technologies. All that costs money. Nursery schools cost money. I have been given a figure of fl billion and it will probably turn out to be more. We do not have that money because we are £50 billion in debt, so we must get it from the public.

I hope that Labour Members will listen carefully, because wisely—I commend the Leader of the Opposition for this—Labour has established a commission to examine universal benefits. I can identify one universal benefit from which billions of pounds could be saved, although some of my right hon. and hon. Friends might not like it. I have gone on for many years about mortgage tax relief and I seem to be getting somewhere with that argument, but let us look now at child benefit, which is indiscriminately flashed around the middle classes. The women, they tell me, like to get it—

Madam Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is straying far from the purpose of the Third Reading debate, which is to discuss the contents of the Bill. Benefits are not among them.

Mr. Walden

I am sure that you, Madam Speaker, agree that it would be remiss and irresponsible of me to talk about the technology schools initiative and nursery education, which are in the Bill, and to make recommendations involving Government expenditure, without briefly explaining where that money is to come from—

Madam Speaker

Order. It would be irresponsible of the hon. Gentleman if he did not allow other right hon. and hon. Members to participate in the debate.

Hon. Members

Hear, hear.

Mr. Walden

For that reason if no other, Madam Speaker—because I see that I am causing a little consternation among Opposition Members—I will sit down, having said that the major changes that I recommended should be explained to the country frankly. It should be explained that they will cost money and that that money should come from curtailing the universal handout of child benefit to the middle classes—to the middle-income groups. It should be explained that the money will be returned to education, because there can be no better benefit to all our children—particularly deprived children—than spending money on education.

9.32 pm
Dr. Wright

Unlike the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Walden), I shall be brief.

Ever since the White Paper that led to the Bill first appeared, I have been searching for its meaning. What did it mean? What does it mean to make legislation in this way? What does it mean to offer consultation, yet not to consult? What does it mean to drive through proposals without consultation? What does it mean to ask for advice but not to take it? What does it mean to deny a level playing field when people ask for one?

What does it mean when people who express proper concerns about the education service—as people in Staffordshire have done in respect of the music service, which other hon. Members mentioned, and many other services—are simply turned away with mutterings about "producers' interests"?

What is meant by some or all the most surreal moments we have experienced? In yesterday's debate, we were told of a retired headmaster in Chelmsford who was supposed to have committed the most heinous crime of distributing leaflets giving his views about an opt-out proposal.

Mr. Simon Burns (Chelmsford)

Clearly the hon. Gentleman has not seen the leaflet and does not understand the situation in Chelmsford, and I am sure that he would not want to mislead the House. The reasons that teachers at the school in question were so outraged was that the leaflet was patently untrue and dishonest in the way that it tried to con parents into believing something.

Dr. Wright

The hon. Gentleman has made my point for me: he did not like the arguments in that leaflet. This is an important point: it tells us a good deal about the kind of government, the kind of legislation and the kind of politics that have been created. Yesterday, the hon. Gentleman described that retired headmaser as disgusting; the Minister said that the arguments were intimidating. In a free society, a retired headmaster was described as disgusting and intimidating because he had had the temerity to distribute some leaflets. He did that because he felt that there was a threat to the education service to which he had devoted his life. That is the kind of response that we get from this Government.

Anyway, there I was, searching for the meaning of the Bill sensing that it had something to do with the Government's ideological mission, and then discovering that the Government's determination to destroy local education authorities was given far more priority than any interest in what was happening to the service that those authorities were delivering. That has become abundantly clear as we have asked questions about specific aspects of the Bill, and have received no answer except "Somehow, the market will provide". We are talking about libraries, orchestras, and all the other services that affect the quality of life. We are told that that does not matter; somehow, the market will provide.

There I was, searching for the meaning of the Bill. Eventually, I found it—courtesy, as it happens, of the hon. Member for Buckingham: the outcome could not have been more fortuitous. It so happens that the hon. Gentleman followed the maiden speech that I made some months ago, and advised me to read a book—[Laughter.] He obviously felt that I needed to read a book. The book in question was by Ferdinand Mount; many Conservative Members, if not Opposition Members, will know that Ferdinand Mount used to be the director of the Centre for Policy Studies, the great Thatcherite think tank. He was also editor of The Spectator, and adviser to the departed leader.

I read that book and it answered the question that I was asking—"What is this legislation about?" Ferdinand Mount had come across a lecture given by the Secretary of State to the Conservative Political Centre a year or so ago; he felt that that lecture was the epitome of the current trend of thought. I cannot resist sharing his views with the House. We have heard a good deal about—

Madam Speaker

Order. I remind the House that, on Third Reading, hon. Members must debate precisely what is contained in the Bill—not what might be in the Bill; not what is not in the Bill; but what is now in the Bill, as amended, if it has been amended. We must be precise about that; otherwise I shall have to draw the facts to the attention of all hon. Members again, and I do not want to waste any more time.

Dr. Wright

Thank you, Madam Speaker. My reason for sharing Ferdinand Mount's views with the House is that I think that I have discovered the kernel—the crystal —of the Bill, and I think that I can express it in a sentence. I am sure that it would be helpful if I did so; it would be a shame to deny the House the meaning of the Bill, as interpreted by Ferdinand Mount. He says: the sad truth is that the terms in which Mr. Patten proceeds to discuss our political culture do not suggest that it has endowed him with that understanding of the British Constitution which would have come as second nature to a highly intelligent youngish politician of an earlier generation…'All power to Parliament' is thus Mr. Patten's cry, faintly but unnervingly reminiscent of Lenin's 'All power to the soviets'—and not without the same fraudulence, since both slogans mean in effect 'All power to the government or governing party'. What seems alien to both Lenin and Mr. Patten is the idea of dispersal of power to a variety of institutions—whether parallel, independent or subordinate. You now see, Madam Speaker, why I wanted to share that with the House. Suddenly, all was clear. The essential meaning of the Bill is distilled in that quotation. It uses the language of choice but in reality it is about rigid centralism. That is what it is about and that is what it will be remembered for. It claims to be about education but it is about something quite different. The tragedy is that another Government will one day have to pick up its consequences.

Madam Speaker

I call Mr. Faber.

Dr. Robert Spink (Castle Point)

I thank the hon. Member for Cannock and Burntwood for giving way to me.

Madam Speaker

Order. I need to be clear: has the hon. Member for Cannock and Burntwood (Dr. Wright) completed his speech or given way?

Dr. Wright

I have both finished and given way.

Madam Speaker

In that case, I am now in charge. I call Mr. Faber.

9.46 pm
Mr. David Faber (Westbury)

I shall not follow the ranting of the hon. Member for Cannock and Burntwood (Dr. Wright), which would have been more appropriate for the Balliol junior common room than for the House.

In Committee and during the past two days, we have heard many claims by the Opposition that the Bill will somehow destroy local democracy and that it is centralising legislation. To those of us fortunate enough to have grant-maintained schools in our constituencies and to know them well, that seems an incredible suggestion as we see true local democracy at work for ourselves.

The truth is that the grant-maintained system in general and the Bill in particular helps to enhance local democracy, not destroy it. Throughout our reform process, we have sought to devolve powers to the very lowest level. Governing bodies are directly accountable to parents and to the local communities which they serve. They feel more involved and believe that the decisions they are taking matter.

The proof is that large numbers of parents are coming forward to serve as governors and are turning out in greater numbers than ever before in ballots. The average is about 60 per cent., well above that in local county council elections. We heard the latest figures for grant-maintained schools from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State at Question Time yesterday. I shall not repeat them now.

There has been much debate in Committee and during the past couple of days on the reasons why schools opt for grant-maintained status. The Opposition spoke of bribes, but were ably answered yesterday, as always, by my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey), who said that if freedom is a bribe, bribes are indeed available. What is on offer is freedom from local education authorities, the freedom to decide the course of one's own school and the freedom as to how one's money should be spent. We are well aware of the benefits—increased pupil numbers, the freedom and ability to employ more teachers, and to improve pupil-teacher ratios, new curriculum subjects and, as I have been able to see at first hand, greater resources available for and, more important, given to special educational needs.

Above all, grant-maintained status plays a crucial role in maintaining the impetus to improve standards. GCSE grades in these schools have improved above the national average and parents are now voting to send their children there to get the best possible education for them.

In Wiltshire we are fortunate not to suffer the worst excesses of intimidation and misinformation put about in so many LEAs by opponents of grant-maintained status. However, even there, we still suffer ill-informed and inaccurate public lobbying against grant-maintained status, usually by local politicians for dogmatic rather than well-thought-out reasons and sadly, all too often, at some distance from the local school and community to which they refer. They also usually fly in the face of the recommendations of governors and head teachers.

I warmly welcome the Bill's measures to tackle any form of intimidation or misinformation, at the ballot stage and subsequently, and I also welcome the further measures announced today by my right hon. Friend.

Conservative Members sat and marvelled in Committee at the repetitive flow of socialist dogma and educationist theory that we had to put up with. We should not be surprised. After the Labour party's fourth consecutive election defeat last year, there was a brief reforming ray of light. The hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) issued a press release on 10 June saying: some LEAs may wish to consider local referenda among all parents to test opinion on key issues". That sounds to me like parental ballots on opting out. The hon. Gentleman continued: parents and governors may feel bound to make decisions about what they think is best for their school. Labour must not appear to be placed in a hostile position of opposition to such parents. Sadly, the shutters came down all too quickly. The Labour party is again committed to abolishing grant-maintained schools and putting them back into local education authority control. At the Labour party conference last year, the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mrs. Taylor) said: We oppose opt-out in principle because it is wrong. It is wrong in principle for a group of parents to be able to hijack a school". I wonder what the parents of the 236,000 children now at grant-maintained schools—the number rises daily—will feel about that. I wonder what they think of being accused of hijacking their own children's education and seeking to improve it.

I can do no better than remind the House of the words of the former leader of the Labour group on Wiltshire county council, who last year dramatically resigned from the Labour party and crossed to the Conservatives. Speaking of Labour policy on education among other subjects, he said: The Labour Party is today, at national and local level, in a state of total confusion, quite unable to put forward ideas to meet the problems of the modern world. Many of the rank and file still cling to ideas that are twenty to thirty years out of date and show little imagination in their simple, doctrinaire slogans of political frustration. It is this Conservative Government who are making the radical changes needed to raise standards and safeguard our children's education for the future.

9.52 pm
Mr. Win Griffiths

I was amazed at the speech of the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Walden), who showed a breathtaking disregard of history and of the fact that a Tory Government have been in power for the past 14 years —a Tory Government in which he played a small part. Then I discovered the reason for the hon. Gentleman's disregard of history. He had the benefit of an education at Moscow university at the height of the Stalinist comeback after Kruschev's fall. All was revealed by that knowledge.

Mr. Walden

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Griffiths

I am sorry; I have been advised that I have not enough time—and, on reflection, I have not.

Mr. Walden


Mr. Griffiths

If I could carry on—

Mr. Walden


Madam Speaker

Order. Does the hon. Member for Buckingham have a point of order?

Mr. Walden

Yes, Madam Speaker. It is personally hurtful to me to he accused, albeit tangentially, of being in any way influenced by Stalin. The hon. Member for Bridgend should have known that Stalin died in 1953. I was a British Council postgraduate student at Moscow university in the time of Kruschev. The hon. Gentleman's history is deficient.

Madam Speaker

Order. The hon. Member for Buckingham, who has clearly had a good education, should know very well that that is not a point of order for me and he should not waste the time of the House.

Mr. Griffiths

The hon. Member for Buckingham talked about genuine quality and his fears about standards. Over the past 14 years we have had an increase in illiteracy for the first time and at the beginning of the 1990s reading standards in primary schools declined for the first time since records began. If there is any fault, it must be in the past 14 years of Conservative Government. As for poorly equipped schools, parents are having to dip into their pockets to make up for Government underfunding.

I agree with the hon. Gentleman on one point. The Conservative party has been absolutely misguided in jettisoning the commitment in 1972 of the former Prime Minister, Baroness Thatcher, to provide places for all three and four-year-olds in nursery education within 10 years. The Home Secretary, when he was Secretary of State for Education, jettisoned that target and the money resolution in the Bill has prevented us from discussing nursery education.

In conclusion, the hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. Faber) talked about the abolition of grant-maintained schools. We do not intend to abolish the schools. We intend to abolish the undemocratic, unaccountable funding council and allow the schools to manage themselves in the same way as any good LEA schools and to look again at the funding formula so that all schools are decently treated.

9.55 pm
Mr. Forth

We have just heard quite the quickest U-turn in policy that we have ever witnessed. Only yesterday, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State predicted that the Labour party would have to accept the concept of grant-maintained schools and within 24 hours it has done so. It is a remarkable tribute to the powers of persuasion of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I am grateful to the hon. Member for Bridgend (Mr. Griffiths) for that startling revelation.

Mr. Griffiths

Let me point out that I said that we would not be abolishing the schools, but the funding council, to allow the schools to be managed in the same way as any good local authority school, and to review the funding formula so that it is fair.

Mr. Forth

On reflection, that may be a double U-turn —the quickest one we have ever heard in the House.

Let there be no mistake; this is a far-reaching Bill. It is deliberately so and marks among other things the end of the long-standing local education authority monopoly of state school provision—something which all Conservative Members and an increasing number of parents will welcome.

The Bill is also a continuity of the policies that we have pursued throughout the 1980s and into this decade. It is a continuity of policy on special educational needs, on choice and on diversity of schools, about which my hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham (Mr. Walden) spoke so eloquently a few moments ago.

Ever since we published our White Paper last year, all that we have heard throughout the stages of the Bill is dreary criticism from the producer interests driving Opposition Members into the usual litany of complaint and negativism about everything that we have done to improve standards of education—something to which we are dedicated and to which Opposition Members seem constantly to be blind in everything they say and do.

Opposition Members accuse us of centralisation, yet we wish to give real powers of decision in making priorities and spending money to parents, governors and teachers and not to the bureaucracy of the local education authorities which call the tune to which Opposition Members dance whenever they are asked or told. The Opposition's position is no more or less than special pleading of the worst possible kind and we reject it out of hand.

The Bill provides a framework for the growing grant-maintained school sector, a new deal for pupils with special educational needs and a new body to deal with the curriculum, assessment and testing—something which is of key importance and at the heart of excellence in education to which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, my right hon. Friend the Minister of State and my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State are dedicated.

Mr. Alan Meale (Mansfield)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Would it be possible for the Minister to face this side of the House or the Chair as many Opposition Members cannot hear a word he is saying? He is talking only to his hon. Friends.

Madam Speaker: I always prefer to see the handsome profile of a Member rather than his bald patch.

Mr. Forth

I am grateful for your guidance and advice, Madam Speaker. Perhaps you could give me some tonsorial advice later after we have completed our considerations.

The Bill is of crucial importance to the future of education. It contains all the elements that I have described to the House. I commend it to the House because I believe that it will provide a high quality of education for all our children.

Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time:—

The House divided: Ayes 282, Noes 252.

Division No. 171 [9.59 pm
Adley, Robert Bates, Michael
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey) Batiste, Spencer
Aitken, Jonathan Bellingham, Henry
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby) Bendall, Vivian
Amess, David Beresford, Sir Paul
Ancram, Michael Biffen, Rt Hon John
Arbuthnot, James Blackburn, Dr John G.
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Body, Sir Richard
Aspinwall, Jack Bonsor, Sir Nicholas
Atkinson, David (Bour'mouth E) Booth, Hartley
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Boswell, Tim
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Bottomley, Peter (Eltham)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North) Bowden, Andrew
Baldry, Tony Bowis, John
Boyson, Rt Hon Sir Rhodes Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Brandreth, Gyles Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)
Brazier, Julian Grylls, Sir Michael
Bright, Graham Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Hague, William
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes) Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Browning, Mrs. Angela Hampson, Dr Keith
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Hannam, Sir John
Burns, Simon Hargreaves, Andrew
Burt, Alistair Harris, David
Butcher, John Haselhurst, Alan
Butler, Peter Hawkins, Nick
Butterfill, John Hawksley, Warren
Carlisle, John (Luton North) Hayes, Jerry
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Heald, Oliver
Carrington, Matthew Heathcoat-Amory, David
Carttiss, Michael Hendry, Charles
Cash, William Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence L.
Chapman, Sydney Hill, James (Southampton Test)
Clappison, James Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Horam, John
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ruclif) Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Coe, Sebastian Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A)
Congdon, David Hughes Robert G. (Harrow W)
Conway, Derek Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W)
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st) Hunter, Andrew
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Jack, Michael
Cope, Rt Hon Sir John Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Cormack, Patrick Jenkin, Bernard
Couchman, James Jessel, Toby
Cran, James Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire) Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon) Jones, Robert B. (W Hertfdshr)
Davis, David (Boothferry) Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Day, Stephen Key, Robert
Deva, Nirj Joseph Kilfedder, Sir James
Devlin, Tim Knapman, Roger
Dickens, Geoffrey Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash)
Dorrell, Stephen Knight, Greg (Derby N)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n)
Dover, Den Knox, David
Duncan, Alan Kynoch, George (Kincardine)
Duncan-Smith, Iain Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Dunn, Bob Lang, Rt Hon Ian
Durant, Sir Anthony Leigh, Edward
Dykes, Hugh Lidington, David
Eggar, Tim Lightbown, David
Elletson, Harold Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield) Lord, Michael
Evans, Jonathan (Brecon) Luff, Peter
Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley) Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Evans, Roger (Monmouth) MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Evennett, David MacKay, Andrew
Faber, David Maclean, David
Fabricant, Michael McLoughlin, Patrick
Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Madel, David
Fishburn, Dudley Maitland, Lady Olga
Forman, Nigel Malone, Gerald
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Mans, Keith
Forth, Eric Marlow, Tony
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring) Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley) Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Freeman, Roger Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
French, Douglas Mellor, Rt Hon David
Fry, Peter Merchant, Piers
Gale, Roger Milligan, Stephen
Gallie, Phil Mills, Iain
Gardiner, Sir George Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Garnier, Edward Mitchell, Sir David (Hants NW)
Gillan, Cheryl Monro, Sir Hector
Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Moss, Malcolm
Gorst, John Needham, Richard
Grant, Sir Anthony (Cambs SW) Nelson, Anthony
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Neubert, Sir Michael
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Sproat, Iain
Nicholls, Patrick Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Steen, Anthony
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Stephen, Michael
Norris, Steve Stern, Michael
Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley Stewart, Allan
Ottaway, Richard Streeter, Gary
Page, Richard Sumberg, David
Paice, James Sweeney, Walter
Patnick, Irvine Sykes, John
Patten, Rt Hon John Tapsell, Sir Peter
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Pawsey, James Taylor, John M. (Solihull)
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Taylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E)
Pickles, Eric Thomason, Roy
Porter, Barry (Wirral S) Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V)
Porter, David (Waveney) Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Portillo, Rt Hon Michael Thurnham, Peter
Powell, William (Corby) Townend, John (Bridlington)
Rathbone, Tim Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th)
Redwood, John Tracey, Richard
Renton, Rt Hon Tim Tredinnick, David
Richards, Rod Trend, Michael
Riddick, Graham Trotter, Neville
Rifkind, Rt Hon. Malcolm Twinn, Dr Ian
Robathan, Andrew Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn Viggers, Peter
Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S) Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Robinson, Mark (Somerton) Walden, George
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne) Walker, Bill (N Tayside)
Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent) Waller, Gary
Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela Ward, John
Sackville, Tom Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Sainsbury, Rt Hon Tim Waterson, Nigel
Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas Wells, Bowen
Shaw, David (Dover) Wheeler, Rt Hon Sir John
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Whitney, Ray
Shephard, Rt Hon Gillian Whittingdale, John
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge) Widdecombe, Ann
Shersby, Michael Wilkinson, John
Sims, Roger Willetts, David
Skeet, Sir Trevor Wilshire, David
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick) Wolfson, Mark
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Yeo, Tim
Soames, Nicholas Young, Sir George (Acton)
Spencer, Sir Derek
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Tellers for the Ayes:
Spink, Dr Robert Mr. Timothy Wood and
Spring, Richard Mr. Timothy Kirkhope.
Abbott, Ms Diane Bray, Dr Jeremy
Adams, Mrs Irene Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E)
Ainger, Nick Burden, Richard
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Byers, Stephen
Allen, Graham Caborn, Richard
Alton, David Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)
Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale) Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Armstrong, Hilary Campbell-Savours, D. N.
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Cann, Jamie
Ashton, Joe Carlile, Alexander (Montgomry)
Austin-Walker, John Chisholm, Malcolm
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Clapham, Michael
Barnes, Harry Clark, Dr David (South Shields)
Barron, Kevin Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Battle, John Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)
Bayley, Hugh Clelland, David
Bell, Stuart Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Coffey, Ann
Bennett, Andrew F. Cohen, Harry
Benton, Joe Connarty, Michael
Bermingham, Gerald Corbett, Robin
Berry, Dr. Roger Corbyn, Jeremy
Betts, Clive Cousins, Jim
Blunkett, David Cryer, Bob
Boateng, Paul Cunliffe, Lawrence
Boyce, Jimmy Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE)
Boyes, Roland Dafis, Cynog
Bradley, Keith Dalyell, Tam
Darling, Alistair Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Davidson, Ian Hinchliffe, David
Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral) Hoey, Kate
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Hogg, Norman (Cumbernauld)
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Home Robertson, John
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'l) Hood, Jimmy
Denham, John Hoon, Geoffrey
Dewar, Donald Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Dixon, Don Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)
Dobson, Frank Hoyle, Doug
Donohoe, Brian H. Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Dowd, Jim Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Dunnachie, Jimmy Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth Hutton, John
Eagle, Ms Angela Illsley, Eric
Eastham, Ken Ingram, Adam
Enright, Derek Jackson, Glenda (H'stead)
Etherington, Bill Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H)
Evans, John (St Helens N) Jamieson, David
Fatchett, Derek Janner, Greville
Faulds, Andrew Johnston, Sir Russell
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Jones, leuan Wyn (Ynys Môn)
Fisher, Mark Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Flynn, Paul Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O)
Foster, Rt Hon Derek Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Foster, Don (Bath) Jowell, Tessa
Fraser, John Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Fyfe, Maria Keen, Alan
Galbraith, Sam Kennedy, Charles (Ross, C&S)
Gapes, Mike Kennedy, Jane (Lpool Brdgn)
Garrett, John Khabra, Piara S.
George, Bruce Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil (Islwyn)
Gerrard, Neil Kirkwood, Archy
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Leighton, Ron
Godman, Dr Norman A. Lewis, Terry
Godsiff, Roger Litherland, Robert
Golding, Mrs Llin Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Gordon, Mildred Llwyd, Elfyn
Graham, Thomas Loyden, Eddie
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Lynne, Ms Liz
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) McAllion, John
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) McAvoy, Thomas
Gunnell, John McCartney, Ian
Hain, Peter Macdonald, Calum
Hall, Mike McFall, John
Hanson, David McKelvey, William
Harman, Ms Harriet Mackinlay, Andrew
Harvey, Nick Maclennan, Robert
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy McMaster, Gordon
Henderson, Doug McWilliam, John
Heppell, John Madden, Max
Mahon, Alice Rooney, Terry
Mandelson, Peter Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Marek, Dr John Ruddock, Joan
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Sedgemore, Brian
Martlew, Eric Sheerman, Barry
Maxton, John Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Meacher, Michael Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Michael, Alun Short, Clare
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley) Simpson, Alan
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute) Skinner, Dennis
Milburn, Alan Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Miller, Andrew Smith, C. (Isl'ton S & F'sbury)
Moonie, Dr Lewis Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Morgan, Rhodri Snape, Peter
Morley, Elliot Soley, Clive
Morris, Rt Hon A. (Wy'nshawe) Spearing, Nigel
Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley) Spellar, John
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Squire, Rachel (Dunfermline W)
Mowlam, Marjorie Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Mudie, George Steinberg, Gerry
Mullin, Chris Stott, Roger
Murphy, Paul Strang, Dr. Gavin
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Straw, Jack
O'Brien, Michael (N W'kshire) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
O'Brien, William (Normanton) Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
O'Hara, Edward Tipping, Paddy
Olner, William Turner, Dennis
Parry, Robert Tyler, Paul
Pendry, Tom Vaz, Keith
Pickthall, Colin Walker, Rt Hon Sir Harold
Pike, Peter L. Wallace, James
Pope, Greg Walley, Joan
Powell, Ray (Ogmore) Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lew'm E) Wicks, Malcolm
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle) Wigley, Dafydd
Prescott, John Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)
Primarolo, Dawn Williams, Alan W (Carmarthen)
Purchase, Ken Wilson, Brian
Quin, Ms Joyce Winnick, David
Randall, Stuart Wise, Audrey
Raynsford, Nick Worthington, Tony
Redmond, Martin Wray, Jimmy
Reid, Dr John Wright, Dr Tony
Robertson, George (Hamilton) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Co'try NW)
Roche, Mrs. Barbara Tellers for the Noes:
Rogers, Allan Mr. Alan Meale and
Rooker, Jeff Mr. Peter Kilfoyle.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill read the Third time, and passed.